Burton: Four Tips for Small Business Owners during the Holidays and Beyond

For small businesses across the Lower Rio Grande Valley District, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in history. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, small business owners have been resilient, pivoting, and adapting their business models to navigate continually changing conditions. With the new year on the horizon, there are potential new opportunities to take advantage of and ways to adapt to challenges you may face.

The holiday season regularly presents some challenges and opportunities for small businesses in the Lower Rio Grande Valley District. Small retailers often do not have the sales volume or financial resources to compete with big national chain discounts. Small business profit margins tend to be smaller than the big players, giving them less wiggle room for big deals.

Here are four tips that may help with challenges and make the most of one of the most profitable times of the year. 

  1. Make it Personal. Add a personal touch to your marketing strategies. Although we may see less of people in person, consumers’ virtual presence is stronger than ever. Reach your customers with video messages from the staff and utilize social media to highlight your business and the team behind it. Offer video chats with clients who may have issues or questions regarding your products and services. However, you are reaching your clientele; the personal, human touch is the way to go.
  2. Think Global. Nearly 60% of the entire world population is on the Internet, and most users live outside the United States. These customers provide an opportunity in our new, virtual world to expand your customer base. SBA has many resources to assist you in reaching global customers. SBA’s Office of International Trade has no-cost options to start your overseas journeys, such as counseling, loan programs, and knowledge of international opportunities. To learn more, please visit the SBA Office of International Trade or contact the Lower Rio Grande Valley District Office
  3. Collect Money Due. Cash flow is the lifeblood of small businesses. As we are aware, cash flow has changed since the start of the pandemic for many. Cash flow allows a small business to keep staff, make payroll, pay suppliers, and keep its doors open. A sure way for entrepreneurs to maximize their cash flow is by collecting accounts receivable on time, not keeping too much cash tied up in unnecessary inventory and eliminating unprofitable account relationships. Keep an eye on cash flow.
  4. Be Creative. Stand Out. Typically, entrepreneurs have one up on their corporate competitors by providing outstanding and individualized customer service. The pandemic has made this a challenge for many. Small retailers may transition what is not possible in today’s climate with what will make them stand out. Entrepreneurs may sell creative and innovative products not found on their corporate competitor’s website. Create a unique customer experience that will draw shoppers to discover your creative, innovative, unique product or service that you cannot find elsewhere. Be Different.
  5. Small business is the heartbeat of the local economy. The effects of championing small businesses reach far beyond the company doors. When small businesses succeed, we all succeed.

For more information on ways, the SBA can assist your small business this holiday season, visit www.sba.gov. For assistance on the tips above, find local  resource partners such as at a Small Business Development Center, SCORE, or Veteran’s Business Outreach Center.  Wishing all of the Lower Rio Grande Valley District a very special holiday season.  Please don’t hesitate to email me at angela.burton@sba.gov or call 956-793-0224.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Angela R. Burton, who serves as serves as the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley District Director and oversees the agency’s programs and services in 14 counties to include 180,000 small business firms.  The district is comprised of a diverse landscape encompassing international ports of entry, beaches, deep seaports, rural communities, and metropolitan cities. The guest column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Burton can be reached at: angela.burton@sba.gov.

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